When I was a kid, I had a stuffed toy Snoopy. Correction: I still have my Snoopy, but since I got married I don't find it necessary to sleep with it anymore.
A few years ago, when my parents were cleaning out their storage area to make room for new things to forget they have in their storage area, they found Snoopy. Its gray, matted fur and flattened profile made him seem a little pathetic, which is why I suppose my Mother assumed I would not want it. Fortunately, they called to ask before they threw it away.
Our children also have their own favorite toys that I suppose will make their way into our storage bins when they go off to college, if only because my Lovely Wife and I are emotionally attached to them. Some of these toys are as much a part of our family as the children themselves. Sometimes, we like them even more than we like the children.
Our Daughter might now be at the age of crushes, puppy love and boyfriends, but a decade ago she had eyes only for Bernie, Dottie, Miranda and ShuShu. Bernie was a St. Bernard and Dottie was a Dalmatian. Miranda and ShuShu were little baby dolls. If nothing else, Miranda and ShuShu gave us pause to wonder what kinds of names our grandchildren will be stuck with.
Over time, these early-childhood toys gave way to Barbies that, for some reason, always ended up naked. We purged her toys one year only to find thirty-two naked Barbies stacked high in a basket under her bed. She made us proud, and a little relieved, by donating them along with bags of their clothes to a local charity store.
Although Bernie, Dottie, Miranda and ShuShu remain safely and lovingly stowed away under Our Daughter's bed, our boys' loyalty to their favorite toys has been considerably more fervent.
The Italian has two: Little Puppy and Hoot. If you can't guess, Little Puppy is a little puppy, and Hoot is an owl. Hoot did fall out of favor for a little while after our Poodle chewed out one of his eyes, but recently he has resurfaced for the nightly bedtime tucking in ritual.
The German took a little longer to determine his favorite. During his first few years, he would switch willy nilly between an assortment of toys at night. Eventually, maybe five years ago, he settled on Giraffy. If you can't guess what kind of animal Giraffy is, then you have even less imagination than the German. Oh, and it's rather a pinkish shade of red, which is mildly disconcerting, but it makes him happy.
It will be interesting to see how much longer the boys require their "friends" to hang about them through the dark of night. We still pack them with us when we travel, and the world is not right in its orbit should one of them go missing, so I doubt it will be any time soon. Even their sister occasionally tucks in with something, lately a teddy bear that arrived this past Christmas.
Of course, I can't criticize or poke too much fun. Not when I'm writing this while looking up every now and then to smile at Snoopy, my old friend and stalwart companion, watching over me from the shelf above my desk.
2011 Mark Feggeler